Warm up on a chilly day with a steaming cup of chai in Surrey. A traditional Indian beverage, chai combines black tea with a blend of aromatic spices, milk, and depending on your tastes, a little sweetener. The result is a warm and comforting drink typically enjoyed throughout the day, but it is most commonly savoured in the morning and during the afternoon as a pick-me-up.
The City of Surrey is world-famous for welcoming people from across the globe and, as a result, has become home to a variety of multicultural groups. In fact, after English, the most common language spoken is Punjabi, which is spoken by approximately 20% of Surrey’s population. This global diversity is reflected in the number of multicultural restaurants and retail stores offering regional dishes from around the world, including the flavours of India and the beloved cup of chai.
Visitors can enjoy a cup of chai in almost every Indian restaurant in Surrey. From fine dining establishments like My Shanti and Clove – The Art of Dining to casual eateries and the newly opened “coffee-shop style” Chaiiwala of London, every proprietor has their own signature chai.
Stick with the familiar, Masala Chai, flavoured with cinnamon or cardamom, or try Pink Chai. It’s creamy, smooth and a little spicy, and the pink colour comes from a reaction between the chai, baking soda and salt. And for those who want an extra kick of caffeine, we recommend a Dirty Chai, which is chai and a shot of espresso.
A helpful hint for making chai at home is to make sure that your milk comes to a rolling boil to ensure you get the rich creaminess of a proper chai. And if you want to get fancy, feel free to “pull” the chai, which means to pour it from height to allow it to cool a bit before serving.
And don’t forget, Chai literally translates to “tea”, so if you’re saying chai tea, you’re basically saying “tea tea”.
Many Surrey locals, when asked where to get the best chai, will respond with, “at home”, and local lifestyle and food writer, Raj Thandi of Pink Chai Living, has even created her own chai blend inspired by her love of chai and global flavours. The Surrey Special, a nod to the city she calls home, is a classic Punjabi chai blend — spiced with notes of fennel, clove, cinnamon and cardamom. Chai blend packages will be available for sale on her website soon.
We asked some locals where they get their favourite cup of chai in Surrey, and the following shops and restaurants were some of the most recommended:
Akash Chaat House – 107 – 12877 80 Avenue (in Payal Plaza)
Satya Asha Fusion 9 – 6 – 12818 72 Avenue
Bandra Cafe – 110 – 7310 120 Street
Tokyo Mithaiwala – 8 – 12950 80 Avenue
Aggarwal Sweets – 8158 128 Street (in Payal Plaza)
Navraj Sweets – 386 – 8158 128 Street (in Payal Plaza)
Royal Paan – 395 – 8148 128 Street (in Payal Plaza)
Chacha’s Tandoor & Grill – 101 – 12855 80 Avenue
Kathmandu Bar & Grill – 9340 120 Street
Chaiiwala of London – 12855 80 Avenue